Adjunct professors at Siena College have voted yes to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action. The victory shows a growing momentum for college faculty forming unions in New York, following adjunct victories at The College of Saint Rose, Schenectady Community College, and Ithaca College.
Siena adjuncts will join SEIU Local 200United as part of Adjunct Action. There were two separate elections for adjunct faculty and visiting professors; the final vote counts were 86 to 27 for adjunct professors, and 16 to 5 for visiting professors.
Mara Drogan, a Visiting Assistant Professor of History, reflected on the victory and looks to the future: “I am delighted that so many of my colleagues have voted in favor of the union and am excited to get to work on the next step in this process. Joining SEIU Local 200United will improve not only the circumstances for contingent faculty at Siena, but for contingent faculty in the Capital Region and the nation by setting a new standard on faculty pay, benefits, and working conditions. Throughout the election, senior administrators at Siena College have stated that they want to work cooperatively with contingent faculty to improve their situation. I hope they will act on this promise by negotiating in good faith.”
Dick Shirey, a Lecturer teaching in the Economics department, echoed Mara’s excitement and optimism: “Today is the beginning of a new era at Siena College. What an opportunity to create an environment where everyone can better work with each other! Now part-time adjunct professors and visiting faculty will have a voice where they can air their concerns as legal equals with the administration. We look forward to working with the administration to address our material concerns, improve our working conditions, gain better job security, and ultimately to become better teachers. As a result, faculty, administrators and students can all be winners as we work together in good faith to shape a positive and inclusive future for all at Siena College.”
Throughout New York State and across the country adjunct faculty continue to fight to address the crisis in higher education: a marginalized teaching faculty, quickly rising tuition, and record levels of student debt. The 180 contingent faculty who won their union today today join over 26,000 faculty members in SEIU/Adjunct Action who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to retirement benefits.